Profiling the new chef at Beaufort's longest-running restaurant

Open for more than 23 years, Plums has remained a favorite of both locals and visitors, and hoping to maintain a vibe of being both hip and vibrant, owner Lantz Price recently brought on a new head chef, 27-year-old Josh Castillo.

Castillo joined the restaurant a little more than four months ago and collaborated with Price on a new fall menu featuring Southern cuisine with a European flair. Dishes like the Yellowfin Tuna with roasted red pepper risotto, collards, and hot pepper buerrre blanc; or the Lowcountry Bouillabaisse – local shrimp and clams served in a broth with chorizo sausage, red potatoes, and corn showcase this joint effort.

Food has always been a part of Castillo’s life.

At a young age, he would watch his mother and grandmother create delicious meals from a few core ingredients, and it intrigued him. So when he moved from the Bronx, New York, to Beaufort 10 years ago he focused on improving his culinary skills and completed the Technical College of the Lowcountry’s Culinary Program.

Despite some early setbacks and discouragements, Castillo quickly honed his talents. Within the first nine months in the industry, he was promoted to sous chef. Now, after only eight years, he finds himself as head chef of one of Beaufort’s best known restaurants.

While Castillo is sure of and confident in his abilities, he remains quietly humble. First and foremost, he explains, it’s all about the food but, “no one can do it alone,” he continues. So it’s also, “all about the staff.” And though he admits that he’s under a tremendous amount of pressure, he also expresses a desire to make his own mark on the culinary scene – his own “cave drawing” – he expresses.

In the immediate future, he hopes to bring in customers to taste new things. In addition to the new Fall menu, he’ll feature nightly specials and fresh desserts – including homemade cobblers and ice creams. He describes that customers who dine at Plums can expect a fine dining experience, while keeping the atmosphere casual and relaxed.

In his spare time, Castillo enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, making hearty foods like steak and potatoes. “If I cook for the public every day, I should be able to – and want to – cook for the ones I love,” he says.

Plums is located at 904 Bay Street, in the heart of downtown Beaufort. They are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Visit their website or their Facebook page or call (843) 525-1946 for reservations.